These Are the 5 Things I Never Fly Without

I have taken countless flights in my life, and I’ve learned there are a few airplane essentials that are invaluable when flying. These are the items I always pack with me on every flight, no matter how long or short. Here are the 5 things I never fly without:

airplane essentials
Photo: Wini Lao
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1. Empty plastic bags

I pack a couple for myself and several for each of my kids. Airplanes are cramped and not very hygienic, so if I can contain the mess at all, I’m going to do it! The flight attendants never seem to come around when I’m done with my drink, so I’m stuck in my seat with the table down because I have nowhere to put my trash. I’ve started collecting all of it in my own bag and then handing it to the flight attendant when they do the final trash collection before landing. Plastic bags don’t take up a lot of space, and are one of the best airplane essentials to have on hand when you have kids anyway (because messes and accidents happen).

2. Fanny pack

I’m late to the game with this trend, but fanny packs, or belt bags as they are now being called, are so convenient! It’s really important for me to keep my valuables on me at all times, but I don’t want to have to lug my handbag with me everywhere I go. This way, I can easily fit my passport, wallet, and phone in a small pocket that’s secured to me. Particularly on long flights, I’m not about to leave my purse at my seat to go to the restroom. (Listen, I’m a city kid who grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in New York, so I trust no one!) Fanny packs are also super easy for getting through airport security, since you won’t be stuck digging through a big bag for what you need. Think of fanny packs as a bonus personal item as well, since you can have it attached to you in addition to the bag you fit under the seat in front of you. Worst case scenario if a flight attendant tells me that I can only have one personal item, it’s small enough that I can tuck it into my backpack. That’s why fanny packs have become one of my favorite airplane essentials.

3. Compression socks

I know they may not be the most fashionable things in the world (though they do come in cool colors and patterns these days), but I’d rather wear compression socks than deal with swollen feet when I get to my destination. I used to struggle with swollen feet and ankles (Way to ruin a pedicure on a beach vacay!), but now I am a believer in compression socks! If the flight is two hours or less, I don’t wear them, but on longer flights (especially to Asia) I don’t travel without these airplane essentials.

4. Cell phone stand

Airplanes have fabulous entertainment these days, but sometimes there are outages or the entertainment is not available. (Serge’s screen was broken on a recently flight he took, for example.) Before I fly anywhere, I download episodes of my favorite shows from Netflix or Amazon Prime to my phone so that I can watch them even without WiFi. My cell phone stand is one of my airplane essentials because when I have it on me, I don’t have to hold my phone in my hand at an uncomfortable angle all flight long in order to watch my show.

5. Pashmina

These multipurpose scarves are one of my top airplane essentials. They’re lightweight and transform from a scarf, to a blanket, to a shawl, to a pillow! Yes I know that many flights offer blankets, but you never know how recently those have been cleaned, so I’d rather bring my own. I bring one pashmina for myself and one for each of my kids when we fly. While cashmere blankets may be the luxe way to go, my $10 Amazon version works just fine because I know it’s going to get dirty on the plane, and I can just toss it into my washing machine when I get home.

My top airplane essentials

While I’m a fan of packing light, there are 5 things I never fly without. Empty plastic bags, a fanny pack, compression socks, a cell phone stand, and a pashmina are invaluable airplane essentials in my book.

What makes your list of things to never fly without?

About Carmen Sognonvi

Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Click here to read Carmen's articles

I've taken countless flights, and I’ve learned there are a few airplane essentials that are invaluable when flying. These 5 things I never fly without.

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